I stood unmoving before that handsome desk in the well appointed parlour of the Nark’s Club For Gentlemen Of Elevated Rank. I was so entirely enraptured by the discovery of my own true self and so accurately drawn a likeness that I became completely unaware of all around me. I know not how long I stood in that attitude, lost in my own imagined remembering. I scarce noticed the hushed and sinister murmurings of men’s voices floating forth from the passage beyond.
I was woken from these reveries by the sudden appearance of a man in the doorway. Although he wore the livery of a club footman he seemed altogether to tall to be such a fellow. He addressed me with none of the usual humble civility that convention so clearly demands of a servant. Instead, with a sudden movement of such swiftness that I was rendered quite certain he was not a footman, for no servant is that diligent in the matter of expediency, He leapt towards me and engaged in combat. He struck my visage with so terrible a blow that I flew backward in a manner severely lacking in dignity. Afore I could full regain my balance another blow was levelled at me and I crumpled to the ground like a linen frock coat!
I was now upon the ground and my breath avoided capture like a butterfly avoids the net. I gasped as the man armed himself with a large and ornate guilt candelabra. He raised the beauteous and valuable object aloft quite ready to strike me with it.
“Nay!” Cried I in desperate alarm. “Sir, pray, cease and desist! For do you not find that object far too pleasing to the eye o be used thus?”
While the villainous wretch did not reply he did acquiesce and hastily exchanged it for a far less decorative silver teapot.
As he brandished so weighty a receptacle I realised I had little choice but to strike him first. I leapt forwards and did just that. As my well proportioned fist collided with his unhappy features he faltered, long enough that I could overpower him. Using as much force as I could muster I pushed the footman backwards. He fell atop the bureau causing it to fall and scatter its contents all about the room. My attention was unanticipatedly diverted from the man who had, so very enthusiastically, attempted to dispatch me. It was drawn instead to the fluttering bank notes that were landing upon the floor. Although I was no merchant banker I had sense enough to recognise that they amounted to a very respectful fortune indeed. I was all perplexed confusion for this money been concealed within the bureau of Charles Lethe; Thus, was it mine?
To my vexation, it seemed my disputation with the excessively large footman had not gone unnoticed. I could soon hear the footfalls of men, who despite their tailored livery and powdered wigs, resembled a regiment of the militia. I seized my chance as a twenty five year old spinster seizes her last hope of marriage, and began collecting the money. I had not yet collected four and twenty pounds whence I realised I had nought about my person in which to carry the abundant notes. Overwhelmed by an idea of some brilliance I removed the woman’s nightgown that the apothecary had so magnanimously bestowed upon me. Securing the cuffs and the elegantly ruffled neckline I filled it with the money as the footfalls grew ever closer. While I knew that delaying my retreat in such a manner was sheer folly, I would be a fool indeed to leave behind so very advantageous a sum.
As I reached for the final bank notes my hand closed upon more than money. A pocketbook had been thrown from the bureau with the riches. To my astonished disbelief it contained three more likenesses of my own visage. All drawn in the same genteel hand. Yet t’was the slanting and smooth script upon the reverse of the drawings that threw me into a state of such uneasy mystification i feared I might never recover. According to these portraits I was not merely one man but several. It would seem that I would also go by the names of Philips who was a baker’s son and Mr Everstone, a curate; while it was laughable that I might either be as lowly as a churlish baker or as pompous as a parson, one need only look at me to realise such things must be scandalous falsehoods, t’was the third that caused the most bewilderment. Indeed I was forced to read it several times that I might believe my eyes. For this particular likeness claimed that I was one Monsieur De Mėmoire; a Frenchman.
Much as such a revelation had me overwhelmed to the point of hysteria, I had not time to dwell upon my finer sentiments, nor the manifold misfortunes of being a man of French nationality. At that very instant, and with a cry of “He is here, I have found him!” two footmen entered the room. I was cornered, trapped, ambushed, surrounded and ambuscaded! I knew what I must do, and though I did not believe myself to be well versed in strategic combat I found that, like a young lady who has natural proficiency for the piano, I did indeed know how to battle. Thus I was able to dispatch them both swiftly and silently. I proceeded with a pleasing lightness of foot to the corridor and was faced with a decision of some magnitude. Whether to flee toward the stairs and hope that I would survive a leap from an upper window with my beauteous visage intact, or combat further with the wretches and depart through the front door. I concluded that the latter was far more befitting of a gentleman. Therefore I expeditiously overpowered two more churls with an agile pirouette, not dissimilar to a step of the cotillion. So it was that, clutching the nightgown full of money, clothed in little more than my drawers and pursued by several more footmen, I absconded through the large oak double doors of the Nark’s Club with genteel grace.